Nursing School: Must-Haves For Clinicals

Nursing programs have different requirements for clinical rotations. Depending on your semester, clinical rotations can differ in specialty and require you to do a various set of nursing skills. Regardless of which unit your clinical semester will be, the necessities are still the same. I have provided you a list of must have books, tools, and so much more to make your day or night at your clinical rotation a lot easier. 

Buy Links to your everyday clinical needs now available to be bought through the links on the right!

Basic everyday needs for clinical:

  • A pen with different colors (BIC)

Instead of carrying several, different colored pens, you can just be carrying one pen. The different colors are useful to make special notes pop out from your assessment sheet, such as allergies, specific events, etc.

  • Extra pens and pencils

You should always carry extra pens and pencils for emergency purposes. It is really easy to lose your stuff at the hospital.

  • Stethoscope [!!!]

This is a deal breaker for most professors. You should always have a stethoscope ready for clinical. If you forget your stethoscope, they can send you home and put you down for a clinical absence.

  • Perfect fit scrubs and comfortable shoes

If your school requires you to wear a uniform, try to wear your scrubs fit, but yet loose, meaning you should be able to breathe and be comfortable in your scrubs. Remember that nursing is not a fashion show and that showing your figure is not professional.

Comfortable shoes are so important. Try to find comfortable shoes because you’ll be on your feet probably the whole time. Most professors don’t like to see their students sitting down so it would be nice to have those shoes that have gel or soft sole cushions inside. Some people recommend using Ted stockings, but this can be a hit or miss. Some of my peers swear that these stockings helps with leg and calf pain, but there are some, including me, who find the stockings uncomfortable. They were cutting of my leg circulation, but they're really cheap so why not give it a try to see if it works for you.

  • A small pocket notebook

This small notebook is just for notes. It’s really good to write down what you learned especially when it’s something new. This is good way to reinforce learning.

  • Nursing blunt scissors

This may not seem important now as you're reading this, but you’ll be surprised. Scissors are used to cut clothes for immediate assessments (usually see this down in ER or new admissions), cut gauze and tape for dressing changes, and so much more.

  • Penlight

This is a requirement for clinical assessments, such as pupils, wounds, etc.

  • Clinical pocket medication book

There are various medication books out there that organizes content differently and vary in size as well. I use a pocket size medication book that has the most commonly used medications. It’s so small that it can fit any pocket I have, however, it does not contain every medication. After using it at the hospital where I work, I came across one or two medications that was not listed in the book.

  • Clinical pocket book according to specialty

You should have a clinical pocket book according to the floor where you work. For instance, if your semester is at a medical surgical unit, you should have the clinical pocket book for that subject. They also have books for the psychiatric and obstetric unit.

For medical surgical unit here’s what I used. 

For obstetric unit, here’s what I used. 

I did not purchase one for the psychiatric floor because my rotation for that unit was more community-based, meaning I visited rehabs and other facilities where acute psychiatric intervention was not necessary. However, I did have my lecture notes handy if I needed it during this rotation.

  • Clipboard with calculator (can separate the two)

I personally just had a clipboard and a small calculator handy. This worked very well for me. However, I did come cross some of my peers who used a big clipboard that opens up to store their papers inside. On the top of the clipboard is a small calculator. I never purchased one because it didn’t really bother me if they were separate but for those who are new to clinicals, this can be very handy to you. I also came across a clipboard that folds in half, and when folded, you can put it in side your pocket. Depending on your scrubs, this may not fit if you wear your scrubs too tight. (Note: I do believe that your scrubs should be tailored to your shape but you should not wear your scrubs so tight that you aren’t able to move. Scrubs should fit nice, but yet loose so that you are comfortable while working.)

  • Blank patient assessment sheets

Your professor may give you one to use or they might be okay with you using your own. For my clinical semesters, I’ve used my own assessment sheet and I usually just transfer the data over to the sheet that the professors wanted. You can even make you own!

  • Nursing Diagnosis Book for care plans

This is very useful to have especially when you have to develop nursing care plans for every patient you have.

  • Study note cards from lecture

If you’re one of those students who uses flash cards or study sheets for lecture, bring them to clinical and put it on your clipboard. When there’s downtime on the floor and you have done everything you could do for your patients, you can study for lecture for a little bit. It’s also good to refer to if you don’t have you clinical pocket book.

Hope you guys find this article useful when starting your clinicals for the semester. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have any questions or if you have any suggestions for new nursing students as well :). Happy Nursing!!

How To Get Organized For Nursing School

Play the video!

Some things to think about when going into nursing school is how to get yourself organized. Whether this is your first or your last semester in nursing school, you know how crazy our schedules can get so it is really important for you to get organized and stay on top of things. Hey, lets get started!

Let's talk about how get organized for LECTURE and CLINICAL! And then we can discuss how to get organized for both. Please be mindful that anything tips suggested are just advice. People learn in so many different ways and if one suggestion doesn't work for you, don't force yourself to do it. :)


1. Get a big binder! This binder will hold everything for lecture.

  • I use dividers to divide my binder into how many exams we have in the whole class. For e.g., if our lecture will have 4 exams for the whole lecture, I'll have 4 dividers in the binder. 
  • Within each divider, I will have all the topics in it for each exam and use small sticky notes to divide the topics. For e.g., if the first exam is on fluid and electrolytes, cardiac, and GI issues, then I'll divide each topic with a sticky note.
  • I place a folder inside to hold papers such as case studies and articles only related to the exam that we're studying for. After we're done with that exam, I take out those papers and place those in another folder to use as a reference later. This allows me to store more papers that are relevant to the next exam.
  • I add my lecture schedule to the very first page in order for to constantly be up to date with what's going on with lecture. I usually protect the lecture schedule with a sheet protector.
  • Last but not least, I also add blank sheets of paper in the back of the binder just in case.

2. Get a small composition notebook! This can just be used to jot down quick notes. 


3. Get pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and page flags!

  • I use all different kinds pen! Make it colorful! You'll actually like to read over your notes when it's more colorful rather than having it all dull and boring.
  • Use highlighters to highlight the important stuff. Some professors will repeat themselves more than once, and if he or she does that.. then more than likely that that's something to remember soooo... highlight it!
  • Use sticky notes to write down side notes.
  • Use page flags to remember to look over that page or topic.

4. Get a bag that's only dedicated to your lecture class. This prevents you from clumping up lecture and clinical into one bag. Combining the two can cause major confusion. :/

5. (Optional) Bring a laptop or iPad. I say this is optional because now a days we can use our phone to access anything anyway. Unless you're the type of person that never forgets to print out your presentation slides or lecture notes, you may want to consider bringing in some type of gadget that will allow you to access your notes just in case you forget to bring it in for lecture. You'll be surprised at how many times you come in to lecture thinking you're all prepared, but then the professor asks you to take out the case study that you were supposed to have printed out before coming in to class and you never printed it. Usually sharing with another person is no problem but sometimes it's best to have your own copy.


1. Get a small binder for clinical. This binder will hold everything for clinical. Use a folder to hold blank patient assessment sheets and another folder to store the completed sheets to keep track of what you've done throughout your clinical semester. NOTE: PLEASE BLACK OUT PATIENT NAMES ON ANY ASSESSMENT SHEET! THIS IS A VIOLATION OF HIPAA! YOU CAN GET KICKED OUT OF THE PROGRAM IF YOU GET CAUGHT LEAVING THE FACILITY WITH ANY PATIENT'S NAME ON ANY OF YOUR PAPERS.

  • Depending on the how much you have to to get done for every clinical will determine how many folders you should have in your binder. For eg. If I need to get a patient assessment and a nursing care plan for every clinical day, I'll have two folders: one holding several blank copies of a patient assessment sheet and  another blank nursing care plan sheets. You should always have several copies just in case you mess up, you'll always have one handy.

2. Get a clipboard. Usually I like to prepare my clipboard in the morning and clip a blank patient assessment sheet and everything else that is due for that clinical day. That way you're all ready to go on with clinical.

3. Get a small calculator. Very useful when calculating doses for meds.

4. Have a clinical drug book, nursing diagnosis book, and whatever pocket clinical companion book of whatever specialty you're in. If you're in med-surg, have a clinical book ready for that. If you're OB or Pediatrics, have a clinical book for that. Note: Don't bring your text book...they're too big. Clinical books are smaller with the same context. Some nursing book companies make books and a clinical book so that the context are consistent between the two.


5. Get a bag just for clinical. Put everything for clinical only in this bag.


Both LECTURE and Clinical:

1. Plan your semester. It's good to have a planner that shows everything for both lecture and clinical. This tip really helps with time management. You should know when things are due and exam dates. Not only will this planner have your school plans, but you should also jot down your social life as well. I know with nursing school, you'll feel like you won't have any time for anything, but it'll be nice to still keep track of what's going in your life.

My Erin Condren Life Planner! 

My Erin Condren Life Planner! 

 2. Always have pens, pencils and a calculator handy! 

Welp! There you go! You're all ready set to go! Hopefully some of you guys found this article to be helpful. If you guys have questions or comments, please feel free to leave comments below. Go out there and be great nurses!